The sign

‘How did you and Mum get together?’ says Joey.

‘We were backpacking—1968, the Summer of Love.

‘There were eight of us on a train going to a little town in France. I’d hardly noticed your mother. I had my eye on an American girl.

‘We all thought we knew what we were doing but we didn’t. None of us spoke French. We mostly got by pointing and looking hopeless.

‘We all got out at one station, then realised it was the wrong one and jumped back on just before the train pulled away. We figured ours must be the next stop but we weren’t sure ‘cause our maps were out of date.

‘At the next station we piled out again. I was second last. Just as I was hauling my pack off the train your mum yelled, “NO.”

‘She dragged me back on board. “It’s the wrong one,” she said, pointing to a sign. “This is Sortie.”’


‘I was still explaining what sortie meant when the train left. It means way out. ‘Way out’, alright! That’s what we used to call crazy things back then.’

Edie wanders in from the backyard. ‘Don’t believe a word of it, Joey-boy’ she says. ‘Now how’s that homework going?’

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (